Monday, 7 December 2009

The Curse of the Mummy

I had some feedback on my blog last week in a slightly unsolicited way from the editor of a lovely national magazine. Someone it might be quite handy to please in fact. The general verdict was that she liked my writing (hurrah) but thought the whole ‘mummy’ thing had been done to death (quote, and boo).

My first reaction was to agree actually. My instinct is that that I don’t enjoy reading about other people’s experiences of wiping baby puke off their laptops as much as I enjoy a good yarn about windfall tax plans, celebrity misdemeanours or what people are wearing in New York. These are things that are definitely worth blogging about.

But then I thought about it a bit more, and I remembered that there were a few things I still hadn’t got a clear handle on about motherhood, and I recalled a couple of friends mentioning the same thing. And I thought about how much better it made me feel, sometimes, putting my thoughts on keyboard, or reading about how badly someone else’s life skills were serving them in their particular domestic war zone.

And I thought about another comment I’d had on the whole blogging thing, about how people don’t like to read other people’s abstract musings. How there needs to be a linear narrative, a direction, an end point in sight. Then people will follow, come back, support. The advice came from a man and, without getting all Hélène Cixous, I think we can agree that this opinion has been somewhat dissected and challenged over the years. However, he had a point – men don’t like to muse as much as women. While the internet helps women to share, it helps men to market.

So maybe what it comes down to is originality. You can offer anything for discussion if you do it with originality. Take Slummy Mummy. Banal and tedious, or insightful and witty? You don’t have to answer that, but in a world where it’s sometimes difficult to remember whether your career is on hold for the family or the family is on hold for your career, being creative about the whole situation and sharing, musing and boring anyone who’ll give you five minutes of screen time makes motherhood feel far more professional as a profession.

There’s a Stephen Fry quote outside the British Library that I think sums up the ever-expanding world of internet musing: ‘An original idea. That can't be too hard. The library must be full of them.’ And long may plundering the past and musing about the present be potential insights for all our future posts.


  1. That's the amazing thing about parenthood... even though it's been done since time began, you're the first person ever to raise your child, and you're inventing it as you go. Each generation needs to figure it our for themselves. No one says to up and coming bands "oh, you know, all that heart break and angst has been done to death. Come up with something new." Every experience needs looking at with fresh eyes, and typing about with fresh fingers. xxxx

  2. hmm; I'm typing with envious fingers! a NATIONAL NEWSPAPER well done!.I'm not sure what I think because if she thinks Mummywords are no longer interesting why isn't she hooked up to THE NANNA DIARIES!

    You write beautifully so maybe she should give you the context to write about.